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Sunday, September 27, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Remember the Golden Age of this Washington Football Team? The first quarter of Sunday’s game in Cleveland against the Browns?

Dwayne Haskins moving the ball, driving Washington down the field, hitting Dontrelle Inman with an 18-yard scoring pass, giving the vaunted Washington defense a 7-0 early lead?


That was fun.

After that, it was business as usual for the few Washington Football fans still watching on television, as the Haskins-led offense turned the ball over five times — including three interceptions thrown by the young quarterback — while Cleveland put 21 points on the board off those turnovers, on their way to a 34-20 win.

The interception-free Haskins from the first two games this season was a mess Sunday after his initial flash of excellence, literally throwing to Cleveland defenders on each of the three picks. He looked like he was coming in off the bench to face the New York Giants in his first game last season (also three interceptions).

Didn’t like what you saw on Sunday? Get used to it.

Haskins isn’t going anywhere.

This is the process.

Now, there is nothing Washington Football fans want to hear less than the word “process” (except the words “Dan Snyder,” maybe?). But what choice do you have?

Carolina castoff Kyle Allen? Really?

Then there’s the miracle recovery man, 36-year-old Alex Smith, who, for those who forgot his season two years ago, never brought this team from behind in a game and was in fact injured the one time he tried to against Houston.

What would either of those accomplish?

Win this one game? Head coach Ron Rivera has shown you the last two weeks that winning these games is not the ultimate priority, as again, with his team down two scores at the end of the game, failed to use his time outs for the second straight week. That’s a difficult message, given the randomness of NFL seasons and the chaos of the NFC East this year.

I mean, if Rivera really thinks Haskins can be an NFL starting quarterback, then why shouldn’t Washington Football fans think that a team with this defense — when healthy — can accidentally win its way into a competitive season?

Forget that notion.

“This is a young football team that is learning, growing and is going to make mistakes and we are going to learn and grow with them,” Rivera told reporters after the game.

Has your head exploded yet?

It’s all about growth, process and patience — a toxic trifecta for Washington Football fans who have lived through so much growth, process and patience that they have all but nearly disappeared.

Still, there is no answer at quarterback this season other than Haskins, and the growing pains that come with him.

“The only way to find out where Dwayne is and what he can do for us is to put hm back out on the football field,” Rivera said. “That’s how he grows … I am going to take my lumps with Dwayne right now. As long as he can show you he can do things to make things happen, I’m going to support the young man.”

The best thing Haskins showed in his first two games was composure. He protected the football — zero interceptions — and gave the Washington defense a chance to damage the opponent. That formula worked in the 27-17 opening season win over Philadelphia. Last week against Arizona, they had to deal with the Kyler Murray factor, and the only way to beat Murray and his offense is to keep coming back and outscoring him.

They faced Baker Mayfield on Sunday. He’s no Kyler Murray.

The defense lost its two best players, Matt Ioannidis and Chase Young, to injuries during the game, and you could tell the Washington defense was worn down in the fourth quarter by the Browns’ running game. But if you get the interception-free Haskins, Sunday was a winnable game for Washington. That would have meant 2-1 record.

But it’s a process.

“We are trying to learn how to play and not make these kind of mistakes,” Rivera said.

He’s right. He is trying to build something and has been on the job for five minutes. But when you take this Washington coaching job, you carry the burden of all those who have tried their own version of the process and failed. Fair or not, Ron Rivera will find that burden weighing heavier each week on his shoulders.

Hear Thom Loverro Tuesdays and Thursdays on the Kevin Sheehan Show Podcast and Wednesday afternoons on Chad Dukes Vs. The World on 106.7 The Fan.


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